French press review 10 October 2012
Will Europe upset the global apple cart? Will the European fiscal pact mean trouble for the Socialist Party? Should French kids start school earlier? And how equal are France's second-generation immigrants?
The main story in Le Monde concerns the latest report from the International Monetary Fund.
Despite three months of progress in the eurozone on the question of managing public debt, the IMF is still worried that the wheels could come off in Europe and upset the global applecart.
The central problem is no longer spendthrift governments but cagey investors. Private capital is fleeing the poor peripheries of Europe as if they had a bad dose of rabies.
For the 12 months ending in June, 296 billion euros of investment cash were taken out of the Spanish economy and 235 billion out of Italy. That means more expensive credit for the state, for businesses and for individuals.
While we're talking big money, an article in Le Figaro estimates that saving the euro has already cost 1,100 billion euros in terms of handouts from the European Central Bank. Maybe it would have been cheaper to go back to barter?
Le Monde also reports that the law ratifying the European Budgetary Treaty was carried yesterday with majority support. Despite a crack of the whip from President François Hollande, who said the left could do it without right-wing support (a bit rich, since the text was basically the document worked out by the last UMP government, and dubbed the Merkozy pact by the hostile hard left), the vote did not get the support of a majority of deputies, only of those who bothered to show up yesterday. Twenty socialists voted against the text. There were nine abstentions.
Le Monde says the 29 rebels are predominantly from the left of the party. And the problem now is to see how they will follow through the logic of yesterday's vote. Will their anti-austerity position become a rallying point for other disgruntled Socialists at the next party congress?
The French education sector gets a lot of front-page attention this morning, because Hollande has been explaining how he thinks French schools should be reformed.
Start the kids earlier, before the age of three, is one presidential aspiration. Get primary schools back to a four and a half day week is another, the idea there being to shorten the working day for the little darlings. What their teachers will say about the threat to their Wednesday off remains to be seen. President Frank also wants less homework, which will presumably please the kids.
The tabloid paper Le Parisien gives front page prominence to a report on France's immigrant population. For a country riven by divisions between communities, there's good news and bad news.
Ninety per cent of the children of immigrants say they feel themselves to be French. That's the good news. But only two-thirds of them think their French neighbours regard them as really French.
On the negative side, the second generation immigrants and their parents are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as native-born French with French parents. Even those who do have jobs earn consistently less than the "real" French.
Racism, overt or disguised, remains a real problem. One second-generation immigrant remarks that French people are asked what they do, while he is more commonly asked from where he comes. Another notes a tendency of virtual strangers to call him by his first name, an unthinkable liberty between French nationals.